FilmReview

Review: Grim Takes On A New Meaning In János Szász’s ‘The Notebook’

James Canellos ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

László Gyémánt and András Gyémánt in The Notebook. Photo Credit: Christian Berger/Sony Pictures Classics.
László Gyémánt and András Gyémánt in The Notebook. Photo Credit: Christian Berger/Sony Pictures Classics.

In the prime years of violence during World War II, identical thirteen year old twins (László Gyémánt & András Gyémánt) are sent by their mother and father to live with their ‘witch’ like grandmother. The parents hope that their children will at least survive the war and won’t have to witness its horrors. The great irony of János Szász’s grim tale is that it isn’t the war that robs these boys of their innocence, they do it all by themselves.

The difficult to identify twins, they both are never named, realize that if the war catches up to them then they should be prepared for it. Throughout the film, the dead eyed twins meet a slew of characters who have been physically abused as a result of the conditions. The boys get inspired by these people, trying to understand their pain and endure it. The boys soon become a World War II version of The Boondock Saints, as their reliance on each other escalades and their mutual desire for retribution for the righteous becomes more clear. They become a violent duo.

László Gyémánt and András Gyémánt in The Notebook. Photo Credit: Christian Berger/Sony Pictures Classics.
László Gyémánt and András Gyémánt in The Notebook. Photo Credit: Christian Berger/Sony Pictures Classics.

It’s a given that World War II films aren’t supposed to be the feel good films of the year. However, Le Grand Cahier is incredibly downbeat and especially towards the end gets way too caught up in that darkness. While the twins are supposed to get darker and darker as the story goes down a twisted rabbit hole, the Gyémánt brothers keep the same expressionless glare throughout the whole picture. It’s incredibly difficult to actually see their transformation as the greatest survivors of the war. Even their Mother (Gyöngyvér Bognár) says at the beginning of the film that they won’t be able to handle the chores that their Grandmother (Piroska Molnár) has for them, let alone the atrocities that they encounter throughout the film.

The logic of this film really doesn’t make that much sense. Many of the character seem to have changed their feelings or minds throughout the story, yet it’s never fully shown how they came to such a decision. Szász could have had a perfectly fine film, had he avoided bringing back certain characters in the third act and focused more on the twins’ journey. While the Grimm brothers lack development it isn’t as painful as the routine self affliction, but still feels like a slap to the face for starting off with such an interesting perspective of cruelty.

Overall Grade: C

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